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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on July 14th, 2016

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5 Interesting Books About Alzheimer’s

Aging & Caregiving

books about Alzheimer'sWe all need time to relax and recharge. For many, reading precisely fits the bill. For caregivers of loved one’s with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, reading can also provide something else: much-needed empathy and understanding. Check out these five works of fiction, each of which may offer some unique insights into living with Alzheimer's disease.

1. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

This epic, multi-generational family drama has been hailed by The New Yorker as “the greatest Alzheimer’s novel yet.” Thomas’s first-hand experience with early-onset Alzheimer's will resonate with readers: His father had the disease, as does the father character in We Are Not Ourselves.

Worried about We Are Not Ourselves being a depressing read? The New York Times says, “Written in calm, polished prose, following one family as its members journey through the decades in an American landscape that is itself in flux, it’s a long, gorgeous epic, full of love and life and caring. It’s even funny, in places — and it’s one of the best novels you’ll read this year.”

2. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

There’s a reason why Still Alice spent 59 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The book tells the mesmerizing tale of 50-something Harvard professor Alice as she receives a devastating Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Genova’s grandmother suffered a cognitive disorder, and the AARP describes the book’s portrayal as “unsparingly honest.”

Don’t have time to read it? Check out the Academy Award-winning film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish.

3. The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey

Described by The Guardian as “a piece of literature seamlessly woven from extremely controlled prose, and peppered with vivid images that are recalled with haiku-like clarity,” The Wilderness tells the story of architect Jake Jameson as he struggles to order his memories while living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Simultaneously disorienting for the protagonist and reader as Jake’s confusion escalates, the book -- Harvey’s debut novel -- was hailed by The Guardian as “a forensic examination of loss and misunderstanding, a paean to the vital force of stories, and an incredibly moving look at a sword of Damocles that hangs over us all.”

4. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Inspired by Healey’s own grandmother’s experiences with a missing friend, Elizabeth is Missing tells the story of 82-year-old Maud as she seeks to determine what happened to her friend Elizabeth, and its potential connection to another unsolved disappearance. The catch? Maud suffers from dementia, making her a wholly intriguing and yet unreliable first-person narrator. According to the Independent, Elizabeth is Missing -- one part comedy; one part thriller -- “is an extraordinary tale of believable, ordinary tragedy.”

5. A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

Described by Chicago Now as “an exquisite ghost story about love, loss and making things right with the world so that souls, living and dead, can find the peace they deserve,” A Sudden Light introduces 14-year-old "Clever Trevor" Riddell as he falls down a rabbit hole of family mysteries against a backdrop of scenic Puget Sound. The book’s compelling characters include “a ghost with an agenda,” and patriarch Grandpa Samuel, who flickers in and out of lucidity due to dementia.

Key Takeaways

  • As an alternative to non-fiction books, fiction offers equally valuable insights for caregivers.
  • Caregivers can find both entertainment and empathy in the relevance of these books.

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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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